First, it's the turn of Hugh Armitage, who celebrates some glorious art, while taking issue with a low-rent descent into "tits and ass" elsewhere.
Swamp Thing #1 by writer Scott Snyder and artist Yanick Paquette.
Swamp Thing is a perfect showcase for the excellent work Scott Snyder is doing in comics at the moment (from his standalone American Vampire title to his continuing work on the Batman franchise). Returned to life, the issue centres on Alec Holland (the man who never was Swamp Thing) with a characterful and absorbing narrative.
The first issue was well balanced, offering a solid foundation for new readers while building on the history of the character, and showing that the entire Swamp Thing backstory did not require jettisoning to make the relaunch title work. There is plenty of intrigue in here, and a generous helping of horror, that will have readers unfamiliar with the history eagerly delving into Alan Moore's defining run for more info on the cast.
Added to all that we have Yanick Paquette's glorious art, which was definitely some of the most consistent and beautiful of the New 52. His layouts, attention to detail and the way his style shifts with the narrative all come together to make a seamless and captivating first issue.
Swamp Thing has hit the ground running, with an engrossing and masterfully written issue that will have readers eager for more. It is great to have Swamp Thing and Alec Holland back at long last.
Catwoman #1 by writer Judd Winick and artist Guillem March.
This title was one of the more promising ones - a return for the popular and intriguing sometime-villain who had starred in a long-running solo series in the '90s. The history of Selina Kyle - otherwise known as Catwoman - is almost as old as Batman's itself, and there is plenty of scope for adventure and fun with the bold, empowered character.
Unfortunately, those things are so far entirely absent in the new iteration of Catwoman. What we are offered is an unlikeable and violently unstable character whose defining feature seems to be the giant chest which lolls out of her clothes in every scene. Batman's appearance at the end of the comic, in which the pair have sex in a scene that is crass and demeaning for both the heroes, has rightly been causing a stir among fans.
Guillem March's art has some appeal, but has unfortunately been turned into a comic in which Kyle contorts herself across the pages in the most impossible looking poses.
Catwoman is charmless and cynical, sinking into the depths of the much maligned 'tits and ass' genre where every scene and panel seems tailored for the lowest common denominator. Very disappointing indeed.
The relaunch has on the whole felt like a success. It has had its share of forgettable comics and strange title choices, but on the whole the good has outshone the bad and some solid new foundations have been laid for DC's characters.
There have been a few disappointing decisions when it comes to the portrayal of female characters, but this was largely mitigated by strong debuts for Wonder Woman and Supergirl. Another concern is the lack of focus on attracting the new, younger readers that the industry so desperately needs. Some titles will appeal to them, but the effort seems to be scattershot, and in some places some comics you might expect to be perfect for young readers have been anything but.
Quibbles about continuity aside, it is great to see a fresh new start and outlook for the publisher, and if the focus remains on the telling of good stories then long-term fans should be pleased with the direction DC is going. The real test will be to see how many new readers have been pulled in by the initiative, and only time will tell on that score.
Watch the extended trailer for the DC Comics New 52 below: